Selling My Phone On Gazelle

Gazelle is arguably one of the most popular buyback websites for consumers to sell their electronics for cash. We’ve seen their commercials, we’ve seen their internet ads, and I’m now going to give you a review of my first-hand experience with the company. Before I review their service, lets take a quick look at Gazelle’s business model.

Cash For Electronics

Gazelle is a simple concept; the company pays cash for used electronics and gadgets. Most importantly to me, Gazelle will buy back used cell phones. Your first question might be “Why would they be interested in purchasing a two-year old cell phone?” At first look, it seems like a dead-end business. But what you may not realize is that Gazelle is simply using arbitrage to their advantage. You and I (the consumer), may not want to go through the trouble of selling our mobile devices on an auction website. As an alternative, Gazelle offers a specific cash value for each cell phone model, which is a quick and convenient method for the average consumer to sell their phone. Once you sell your phone to Gazelle, you are done with the deal. What you don’t know is that Gazelle takes your phone and then resells it on the open market for a higher price; in fact, Gazelle has an eBay Store.

Gazelle’s Offer

At the time of this experiment I didn’t have an extra phone to sell to Gazelle to test their services with. My girlfriend had just upgraded to an iPhone 5 so her previous iPhone 4 was up for grabs. I asked her if she would be interested in letting me sell her iPhone 4 to Gazelle for the purpose of this review and she agreed as long as the check from Gazelle was written in her name. I’m actually doing her a favor because that phone probably would have sat in her bedside drawer forever; my girlfriend never sold her older cell phones.

When you first arrive on Gazelle’s homepage, you can select what type of device you want to sell to them. Directly on the homepage you can click iPhone which brings up a selection of all the iPhone models they are currently making offers for. Next I chose the iPhone 4, which brings up a selection of wireless services that the phone is for. I selected AT&T, and was followed with a selection of the iPhone capacity (18 GB, 16 GB, or 32 GB). I chose 16 GB and a new page loaded. The next step is to select the condition of the phone. The three options are Broken (does not turn on or has serious physical damage), Good (normal signs of use), or Flawless (looks like it’s never been used). Gazelle offered $50 for a broken iPhone 4, $115 if it is in Good condition, and $120 for Flawless. What’s interesting is that Gazelle will buy your phone from you even if it is broken. I examined the phone and decided it was in good condition because of a few minor scratches on the edges. The scratches are hardly noticeable however I suppose the phone wouldn’t be considered flawless. It’s important that you’re honest when you evaluate your phone’s quality because Gazelle will inspect the phone when they receive it and will only send you a check if they agree with the condition you selected.

Gazelle’s offer didn’t require that I include any of the accessories that came with the phone such as the charger or the earphones. Therefore, I decided to keep them since it’s nice to have an extra set of each. The charger and earphones are worth about $30 bought new from Apple. According to their website “For iPhone, iPads and  iPods, the quote you receive is for the unit ONLY. With non-Apple cell phones, 99% of the offers will not change due to a forgotten charger or battery.  There are a few select models which have unique chargers and batteries which, if missing, will affect the payment.”

Choose an iPhone

Once you decide on your phone’s condition, you can select a button that says “Get Paid”. Just below this button there is text that reads, “Accept this offer today and you’ll have until August 15th, 2013 to send in your iPhone. Take advantage of today’s pricing with time to get a new iPhone!” At this point, to accept the offer you must create an account. If you want to skip creating an account with Gazelle, you can login with a Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Yahoo, or Microsoft profile. After you login you can shoose how you want your payment sent to you; the options include check, PayPal, or an Amazon gift card. You could also opt for them to recycle the phone or send the money to a charity if you are not interested in receiving the cash.

Shipping The Phone

I submitted the trade-in to Gazelle on Sunday, July 7th. By the following Wednesday, I received a pre-paid shipping box and order receipt in the mail. This makes shipping the phone to Gazelle easy; just put it in the box and mail it out at your local post office. Gazelle only works with USPS or FedEx and will determine which type of postage to send you based on the size of the item you are sending to them. Gazelle gives you 30 days to send the phone to them and they will guarantee the offer they quote you so long as the phone matches the condition you specified. Before you ship your phone you should remove all cases, screen protectors, and SIM cards from the device. Also don’t forget to delete all of your personal data from the phone and return the phone to the default settings. I mailed my phone on July 11th, and Gazelle emailed me to confirm they received my package on July 15th.

Within the same day, Gazelle emailed me to tell me they inspected the phone and also sent $115 to my PayPal account. When Gazelle is checking the phone, their terms allow them to disagree with the condition you specified. If this occurs, they don’t have to accept your phone and can give you the option of a lower offer or sending the phone back to you. Luckily the phone I sent them met their requirements of the “Good” condition. From start to finish, it took 8 days to receive Gazelle’s cash offer from the day I initially logged onto their website.

Gazelle Offer

Gazelle’s Terms of Sale

Before accepting Gazelle’s offer for a used device, you must accept their terms of sale. After reading through these, here are a few points to consider:

  • “Gazelle may terminate the eligibility of certain Products at any time and without advanced notice, but such termination will not affect any Products for which you have already accepted an offer, which is good for thirty (30) days.” – Gazelle only accepts the most current and valuable electronic devices on their website. This means, that they may offer cash back for an older phone today, but they do not have to offer it tomorrow. However, once they make an offer, even if they remove the item from their website, you’re offer is good for 30 days. If you have a phone that is older, I recommend selling it sooner than later. Older phones are depreciating; the longer you wait, the less money you will receive for it, and there is the possibility Gazelle will remove the device from their website.
  • “All offers will be based on Gazelle’s own determination of the Product value in reliance on the accuracy of the information you supply us. Gazelle will use its discretion to determine the Product value, weighing factors that may include the Product’s model, functionality and condition and whether necessary Product accessories have been provided by you.” – Gazelle will make the final call of your phone’s condition. They very well may offer you less cash for what they originally offered on their website. Although they do not have to pay you the amount they originally offered, you have the right to decline an adjusted offer. If Gazelle determines your phone isn’t in as good of condition as you claimed, and you disagree with them, I suggest that you have them send it back to you so you can sell it directly on eBay.
  • “When packaging your Product, be sure to include all materials included in your description when we calculated your offer.” – For some devices, Gazelle will require that you send all of the accessories that were originally included with your phone. In my situation, the offer didn’t request the charger or earphones so I was able to keep them. But if your offer does request them, be sure to put them in the shipping box, otherwise Gazelle will reduce your offer when they receive the package.

When Is The Best Time to Sell My Phone?

The best time to sell you phone on Gazelle is now. The sooner you request an offer on the website, the higher the cashback you will receive. All of the phone manufacturers including Apple, Android, and Windows phones are constantly releasing newer phones with advanced technology. As soon as you upgrade to a new phone and you no longer need your previous phone, you should sell it. iPhones retain the highest resell value but will still depreciate over time. There seems to be at least one new Android device on the market every month so you have even less time to flip your Google phones. The closer to the phone’s release date will be the best deal you’ll get from Gazelle.

Cons Of Gazelle

While Gazelle’s service makes it easy to trade your phone in for cash, there are a few downsides that you should be aware of.  Gazelle does not offer cash for every single electronic device made under the sun. Most of the phones they offer cash for are the most valuable, most popular, and more recent models. If you are trying to sell a six-year old Motorola flip-phone, you won’t find an offer on Gazelle, You’re better off trying eBay. Also, you must remember that Gazelle makes the final decision of your offer. There is some gray area when determining the condition of your cell phone. For example, your phone might be heavily scratched but still works fine. Although the phone isn’t considered “broken”, it isn’t considered “good”. So if you ship your phone with significant exterior damage, Gazelle may inspect your phone and only offer you half of the cash value of what they claimed they would give you originally. The last concern is that you will not get as much cash from Gazelle as you could selling it on your own directly to another consumer. If you want to get as much cash for your phone as possible, try listing it on Craigslist first.

iPhone 4 16 GB


Although Gazelle did not pay me as much money as I could have sold my phone for on eBay or Craigslist, Gazelle’s service made my life easier by providing a more convenient and quicker transaction. I took a look at Gazelle’s store on eBay and they are selling iPhone 4 16GB phones for $220. So they will most likely take the phone that I traded into them and flip it for more money. That’s fine with me because I avoided all of the hassle of selling a phone on eBay, posting pictures, as well as the auction and payment transaction fees. I also don’t have to worry about fraud or scams when dealing with Gazelle. Sometimes on eBay, after you ship a phone to a buyer, they will complain that the phone isn’t exactly as you had described it, or it doesn’t work how they expected, which in turn requires you to go through the dispute process. These are all problems I wanted to avoid. I was very happy with the outcome of this experiment; I sold my girlfriend’s phone quickly and efficiently on Gazelle without any headaches. I didn’t get as much cash as I could have gotten if I had listed it on an auction marketplace, however I did get a significant amount of money for the phone that my girlfriend would have never seen if she let it sit around collecting dust for a few years.

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